Snow blowers are built as either single-, double-, or now even triple-stage snow blowers. Knowing the differences between the stages in a snow blower can help you decide which types you should be looking at, and which ones will be appropriate for your situation. Knowing the ins and outs of the different stages can also help you decide which ones may fit your maintenance abilities as well.
Single-Stage Snow Blower
Sometimes also referred to as a snow thrower, a single-stage snow blower is meant for light duty. It has a single, high-speed impeller that moves snow into the center of the machine and throws it back out in a set direction. These are usually very light machines that can be moved very easily. However, they are rarely self-propelled, meaning that the user will need to provide all of the force behind them. Also, many single-stage machines have a shoot that cannot be adjusted while in motion, meaning that should you need to propel the snow in a different direction, you will have to stop the machine and turn it off to adjust the throw. Single-stage blower are generally the easiest to repair at home, with the fewest and simplest moving parts.
Double-Stage Snow Blower
The second stage in a double-stage blower is an auger that feeds the snow and ice to the impeller. This second stage allows for faster gathering of snow, and allows the machine to tackle taller heights of snowfall. This type of snow blower also generally comes with single-hand operation, and a shoot that can be adjusted while moving, allowing the operator to change the throw of the snow without stopping. These also tend to be self-propelled, either with chained tires or tracks. They also sometimes come with features including hand warmers in the handle, while others can be attached to mowers or all-terrain vehicles. With greater height than the single-stage snow blowers, these can tackle drifts up to two feet deep. With more moving parts and high-horsepower engines, these are much more difficult to work on, and are not recommended for do-it-yourselfers.
Three-Stage Snow Blower
For the largest jobs, the three-stage machine has a stage in front of the auger that spins at extremely high velocity, and is used to break up large chunks of snow and ice before the auger grabs them. This stage tends to spin at ten times the speed of the impeller, and requires great caution. These types of snow blowers are always self propelled, and their complexity requires professional maintenance. Three-stage blowers are generally used by professional outfits who have to handle large amounts of snow often, and who may have to tackle awkward lumps and piles.
Now that you know what each stage does, you’re set to pick out your snow blower. With much of the country under snow, and more likely to come in the next few months, get out and take a look.